The other day I walked with friends to St Peter’s Square where Pope Francis would speak from a balcony for the regular noon-time Sunday Angelus. There were a huge throng of people all headed to the Square, my friends noting it had never been this large a crowd for a regular Sunday Angelus in the over ten years they had lived there.
The Square was packed and up on the… balcony, the Pope was already reading the gospel. I was struck by the sound of his voice. It was soft, humble in tone akin to sharing thoughts rather than one teaching. He uttered the word “amor” in the context of loving others in a way that brought tears to my eyes. Given his many pro-gay sentiments these past months, I felt a profound sense that the “amor” he uttered now included me.
There was one big screen on the ground to give one a close up of the Pope but it sufficed with me and many others to just hear this mellow and serene voice pervading the Square. The voice matched what people have said and what I’ve read, that he wipes the feet of prisoners and seeks out the sick and the handicap to touch and kiss them. Many people walk slowly past me many in reverie over his voice, some crying tears of joy.
After the gospel and the homily, he proceeds to greet everyone below on the Square, his mellifluous tone unchanged. It is though interrupted for a moment to a heaviness of heart as he laments the people of the Philippines suffering from the earthquake. He asks the crowd for prayers and support. I am touched and teary-eyed as many Filipinos in the audience must have felt.
The Pope thanks a group of young people who organized a run to raise money for the poor. He says hello to a large contingent of pilgrims from Brazil eliciting much applause. He does several more acknowledgements of people who’ve come and then he bids the crowd “…goodbye, take care and have a good Sunday lunch.” My friend tells me Pope Benedict was not intimate in his Angelus. He read from a script.
The crowd gives a hearty lengthy clap and then they wave to him as he waves back. His figure leaves the balcony but for many minutes we still look up transfixed, to an empty balcony.
Then we all turned around to leave the Square, no pushing or shoving, leaving serenely with many smiles on our faces.
I am happy to be alive to see a Church who ostracized so many of us all these years for our choices of who to love to be led now by a humble man who says “…who am I to judge?”
Viva Il Papa!